creative ideas for fire drill blanket?

daisychain01September 21, 2012

Hi everyone, I know you are a creative bunch and I'm hoping you can help me. I'm a kindergarten teacher in a VERY cold climate. In the last couple of years we have had a couple of fire scares (broken exhaust fan in the kitchen, workmen accidentally setting off the alarm, etc). It can take 20 minutes or more to get the kids back inside and it can be extremely cold especially for the little ones. We've been given the foil blankets and a few fleece blankets for each class, but with the little ones, I end up running from one kid to the other trying to keep blankets in place, the wind blowing them around, etc.

I was hoping someone could help me come up with an easy design for some sort of cape or tent-like thing the kids could wear. One idea I have is to take a long piece of fleece and fold it lengthwise and cut head holes every couple of feet. Sort of like a poncho, but for multiple kids. I also should mention that they have to be able to walk in it, since our evacuation site (in case we have to leave school grounds for safety) is a couple of blocks away.

Anyone have any other ideas? or perhaps could improve on mine or point out problems with it? I have no budget for this, so please keep in mind that it has to be cheap.

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chickadee2_gw

I like the idea of a poncho, but I wouldn't put more than one kid to a poncho. That's asking for trouble. I found some simple instructions in the link below.

Don't hesitate to go to your local Walmart and ask the manager in person if he/she can give you a discount on the fleece because it's for a school in their area. Can't you ask the parents to come up with the money. If you got a discount, it shouldn't cost more than $5 per child. I'd also ask a few parents for help in cutting them out. Just get one color of fleece so the kids have nothing to argue about.

I think it's wonderful you want to do this.

Here is a link that might be useful: poncho

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 2:27AM
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daisychain01

Thanks chickadee. Those are very easy instructions. I might add sort of a funnel neck. I think I could do it by just cutting out a sort of funnel shape (or as you suggested getting parents to) and sewing the two sides. A bit more work, but still fairly easy. We have discount fabric stores that (I think) will be cheaper than Walmart. I will ask if they can offer me a discount or have any colours they can't sell and would be willing to part with cheaply. I work for a private school and people tend to think we have money to burn, but with the economic downturn, we are pinching pennies just like everyone else. Off to the fabric store. Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:11AM
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Olychick

Also, think about finding a group of "church ladies" or a sewing club at a senior center or something similar. They sometimes love to have a project like this to help the little kiddies.

I once put a very talented seamstress in her 80's in touch with a woman who had posted on Craigslist that she needed a seamstress to sew a raincoat for a goose! Now, THAT was a story of a lifetime for the seamstress and the goose got a designer raincoat. Really. So maybe try Craigslist if nothing else works.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 3:37PM
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daisychain01

olychick, that is a brilliant idea. I actually made mine already (just watch, now we won't have a fire drill until next summer). I ended up making the long ponchos for 3 kids in each. I think they will be okay. Usually the kids will just be sitting and in the event we do have to walk, I think 3 together will work. I decided to buy the more expensive warmer fleece and couldn't afford enough for one each.

I'm going to show them to the childcare director at our school and see what she thinks. There are 48 kids ages 2 and 3 in her program and last time the alarm went off unexpectedly, they were frantically trying to keep them all covered. If she likes the idea, I will see if I can find those volunteer seamstresses you suggested. Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:20PM
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folkvictorian

It sounds like you might already have a solution, but could I offer another idea? If you asked parents to donate kindergarten-sized hooded coats or jackets, you could take them all (yes, 20-25 or whatever) and put them in vacuum "space bags" and compress them into a manageable size. These bags could then be kept in a spot right near the exit door so one of the adults could grab them on the way out of the building. The bags could be opened and the jackets would fluff up quickly and keep the kids warm during the fire drill. Two dozen knit hats would only take up a small compressed space as well. After the fire drill, the jackets and hats would get repacked in the space bags for next time or next year.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:29PM
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daisychain01

folkvictorian, where do you find the vacuum space bags? I like the idea of the hats. Also, I'd love them for when my own kids pack for camp. I've done it using ziplock bags, but some air always manages to seep back in sort of ruining the effect.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 11:24PM
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maire_cate

They're available in lots of places - I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond. But I've seen them at Boscov's, Kmart etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: BB&B

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:50AM
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maire_cate

I should have added that those are the ones that compress using a vacuum cleaner. However when I travel I use the ones that I bought at the Container Store - they're really just large zip lock bags, but they are thicker and they seal better. And if you're traveling you can't lug along a vacuum. But they're not large enough for multiple pairs of coats.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:52AM
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daisychain01

Thanks maire-cate!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:30AM
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bestyears

Okay, I'm still stuck on why a goose would ever need a raincoat.....

Do you have a good group of involved parents at your school? If so, look up directions for something called a Quillow. It's a blanket that folds up into its own little bag. If you made these from fleece , and added a simple fabric handle onto the bag, the kids could grab these on the way out of the classroom. (Just keep them in a box by the door?). I've been both a parent and a teacher. We routinely did projects like this for teachers -i.e. we made these neat chair covers for the kindergartners which held their workbooks on the backs of the chair. Fleece is routinely 50% off at Joann's, so I don't think it would be expensive, and you could yse them every year.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 10:35AM
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Olychick

Bestyears, I was surprised no one else caught that...sorry to highjack, but it's, well,see for yourself...most people would have had a goose dinner...

Here is a link that might be useful: Raincoat for Rosie

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 12:15PM
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amj0517

Ha! I assumed the raincoat was for a goose statue - you know the ones on some front porches that get an outfit change with every season...

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 1:16PM
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bestyears

Well now THAT makes sense! I once made an outifit for a Great Dane/Dalmation, rescued by our local shelter. Her original owner (who I assume is going straight to Hell and will suffer FUREVER!), neglected her so badly that she ultimately lost every bit of her fur, and since she was white with a few dalmation spots, every time she was outside was just murder on her skin. The outfit worked perfectly! Covered all of her, right down to her toes, but was easy-on/easy-off, and left room to take care of the necessities too.....

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 2:09PM
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bestyears

Well now THAT makes sense! I once made an outifit for a Great Dane/Dalmation, rescued by our local shelter. Her original owner (who I assume is going straight to Hell and will suffer FUREVER!), neglected her so badly that she ultimately lost every bit of her fur, and since she was white with a few dalmation spots, every time she was outside was just murder on her skin. The outfit worked perfectly! Covered all of her, right down to her toes, but was easy-on/easy-off, and left room to take care of the necessities too.....

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 2:11PM
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folkvictorian

Daisy, just like others have said, you can find the space bags at the big retailers like Target and Walmart, etc. The ones I have (not the Space Bag brand name) can either be vacuumed to remove the air or you can just stuff them and then squash and roll up the bag until most of the air is out and then seal them so they stay as flat as possible. With the vacuum, the stuffed bags get a lot flatter, of course....

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 2:17PM
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